from The Daily Cardinal - October 5, 2007

University, Adidas continue effort to rehire mistreated workers

By: Devin Rose

UW-Madison officals respond to SLAC protest Wednesday.

UW-Madison officials stressed changes have been implemented at Adidas' factories to ensure better treatment of workers Thursday, despite the Student Labor Action Coalition's protest Wednesday of the university's athletic apparel contract with the company.

SLAC has protested several times on campus, demanding that Wiley cut the Adidas contract due to code of conduct violations.

Phoebe Taurick, a member of SLAC and the Labor Licensing Policy Committee, said, "It's ridiculous that students can't talk to the chancellor" directly about these issues.

Dawn Crim, acting special assistant to Chancellor John Wiley for community relations, said she believed the protest was "misguided," adding that Adidas, a UW-Madison licensee, has "a very good working relationship" with the university in their aim to help factory employees.

Hermosa Manufacturing, a former Adidas subcontractor, closed its El Salvador factory in 2005. Its employees have yet to receive about $825,000 in backpay.
Crim maintained that the university holds all 450 of its licensees in 47 countries to the campus code of conduct.

She added that it would be more beneficial to work toward improvements instead of cutting the contract completely, which she said "does not benefit workers anywhere because then they're all unemployed."

Steps that Adidas has taken include analyzing the hiring strategies of factories to root out blacklisting, making improvements in the factory monitoring process and engaging "fair trade" companies to manufacture apparel, according to Crim, who traveled to three El Salvador factories where UW-Madison's apparel was made in April 2007.

One new licensee, Counter Source Inc., will have apparel at University Bookstore, said Crim, adding that the bookstore would like a fair trade section.

"They too are committed to the UW logo being made in the best possible conditions," she said.

This fall, Adidas will also request consultation from the U.S. government for not adhering to the labor components of the U.S.-D.R.-Central America Free Trade Agreement, according to a list of Hermosa updates used at a Sept. 28 Labor Licensing Policy Committee meeting.

The list also said Adidas and UW are making progress "in their efforts to identify and recover Hermosa factory liquidated assets."

UW-Madison's Labor Licensing Policy Committee will host senior Adidas executive Gregg Nebel Oct. 26 to talk about its sponsorship agreement, which will become an annual occurrence for the two groups.

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